It's always fun to make traditional cookies that have been in the family for years. This is my grandmother's Pfeffernusse cookie recipe. The Pfeffernusse cookie is a German pepper nut cookie containing several spices such as allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon along with anise extract that makes a tasty cookie that goes wonderfully with tea or coffee. This is a well known Christmas cookie among Germans.
I crave these now every Christmas. I couldn't wait to get my batch made for the holidays! One batch makes approximately 100 cookies and these will last all month on the kitchen counter in an airtight container. They actually taste (get this) BETTER after sitting on the counter for a few weeks.
Follow along as I show you how to make these tasty, spiced Christmas cookies:
German Pfeffernusse Cookies
*Recipe from Grandma (Betty Hall) - Originally from Recipes of the Black Sea Germans
1 1/2 cups honey
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or lard
3/4 cup black coffee (regular or decaf)
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
8 cups flour
Powdered sugar and milk for frosting
In a medium saucepan, heat the honey, butter and sugar until well combined. Cool.
When mixture is cooled, pour in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee, anise extract, spices (pepper, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice), and eggs.
Beat until well combined.
Slowly begin to add flour.
Mix until well combined and all flour has been incorporated. Cover and chill dough for 1 hour in refrigerator.
After chilled, form dough into long rolls about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap in waxed paper to keep from drying.
Store rolls in refrigerator overnight (or start dough in morning and bake in late afternoon).
Remove rolls from fridge one at a time. Slice into 3/4 inch cookies.
Bake on a slightly greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F. for 13-15 minutes or until slightly brown but fairly soft.
Move to cooling racks.
There are a few ways to frost these, as I'll show you below, but to prepare the powdered sugar frosting combine 2 cups powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons milk. Mix well until smooth and runny. You may need to make more frosting as you go.
If you want a cookie with a sweet hard shell that gives your cookie a crunch, place cookies into the frosting bowl and spoon frosting over top. Place on cooling racks to allow excess frosting to drip off, then place in a large bag filled with powdered sugar. Shake and remove cookies to waxed paper. Or you can spoon frosting onto the tops of cookies (not covering entire cookie) and then place in powdered sugar to shake. Or just skip the frosting and put the cookies directly into the powdered sugar and shake.
I like to frost my cookies each way. I like the sweetness and crunchiness of the frosted cookies but I also love the simplicity of the plain powdered sugar cookies that focuses on the flavor of the cookie! Try them all!
Store in airtight containers at room temperature. These last several weeks and taste better with time.